MANILA, Philippines?Every private citizen earning at least P500,000 annually will now have to file the equivalent of a statement of assets and liabilities and net worth (SALN)?previously required only of public officials.
The Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) said the new rule was meant to give regulators ?the whole income picture of [an individual] taxpayer? and to help improve collections by clamping down on tax evasion.
The order, Revenue Regulation No. 2-2011, was signed and issued on March 1 by Finance Secretary Cesar V. Purisima.
Every citizen making at least P38,461 a month (assuming he receives 13 months? worth of salaries each year) will be required to file a personal SALN to justify his or her gross income to the BIR.
Beginning with the 2010 tax year?for which the deadline is on April 15?individual taxpayers, estates and trusts must completely detail to the authorities their passive income, which includes interest income, royalties, dividends, as well as all kinds of prizes and winnings.
Income from the sale or exchange of real estate must also be detailed, along with properties received through ?gifts, bequests and devises.?
Finally, individual taxpayers must also disclose to the BIR everything that they receive in the form of fringe benefits, proceeds of life insurance policies, returns on premiums, retirement benefits, pensions, gratuities, stock transactions and all other sources.
?This would address the issue of why some of the top 40 Forbes richest [Filipinos] are not on the list [of top taxpayers],? BIR Commissioner Kim Jacinto-Henares told the Inquirer.
Rampant tax evasion
Sources familiar with the rationale for the move said the regulation was an attempt to clamp down on rampant tax evasion, especially among the more affluent members of society.
?Many of the people on the BIR?s [existing] list of the top 500 taxpayers are basically ranking company officials and entrepreneurs,? said an audit industry executive who requested anonymity because his clients are among those that will be affected by the new rule.
?What they?re trying to do is to really understand the extent of people?s incomes and see if they?re really reporting everything,? the executive said.
Concerns about timing
Another industry official?pointing to the BIR?s prescribed reporting format, which is basically a personal income statement and balance sheet for each taxpayer?described it as a ?SALN for private individuals.?
?I think it is within BIR?s right to do this, and they should do this,? the official said. ?But we have concerns about the timing.?
He said individual taxpayers, estates and trusts had only a little over one month to comply with the new order before the annual tax deadline on April 15.
?It is a completely new regulation, and it comes too close to the deadline,? the official said. ?Many will surely be unable to comply in time.?